Folk and punk. The two words just don't go together. It seems wrong in every way to link preachy acoustic guitars and morals-steeped friendship circles with the volatility and contempt of punk. Yet if you say the words slowly, one after another, back and forth, a slightly alliterative slant rhyme begins, and it makes you stop and think: Folk music at its best functions as social commentary; punk at its best functions as social criticism. Perhaps these sounds are not oil and water after all.
Of course not. We have the Clash and Billy Bragg and even Stiff Little Fingers to prove it. And in modern times, we have Against Me!, a punk band with what can only be described as folk lyrics. Don't get too excited -- AM still talks plenty about anarchy and pints of Guinness, and it's these references that keep the band's word-of-mouth in the same breath as the Pogues, the Weakerthans and Operation Ivy. But there's an undercurrent of awareness that sets Against Me! apart, even from their Fat Wreck Chords labelmates. Guttural vocals and a semi-violent stage presence bore songs like "Reinventing Axl Rose" and "Scream It Until You're Coughing Up Blood" into the memories of true fans -- the same hardcore kids who, though they'll never admit it, were won over by the heartfelt acoustic versions. Still, if this music inspires any friendship circles, you can bet there'll be a mosh pit in the middle.
Early show: Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 314-851-0919 for more information.